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[an error occurred while processing this directive] Sunday, 14 October, 2001, 16:00 GMT 17:00 UK
Airdrie retain Challenge Cup
Stewart Taylor and Owen Coyle celebrate
Stewart Taylor and Owen Coyle celebrate
Airdrieonians 2-1 Alloa Athletic

Goals from strike duo Owen Coyle and Mark Roberts ensured that Airdrieonians retained the Challenge Cup.

But they were made to battle all the way by Second Division leaders Alloa Athletic at Broadwood to become the first club to win the trophy three times.

Victory could be Ian McCall's last act as Airdrie manager, the former Bradford City, Dunfermline Athletic and Rangers midfielder being linked with the vacancy at Scottish Premier League Motherwell.

The speculation about his future did not disturb the form of the team presently leading the First Division as they eventually prevailed with two goals in the last 15 minutes.

Veteran substitute Gareth Evans grabbed one back in the dying seconds, but it was too late to revitalise Alloa manager Terry Christie's hopes of winning the trophy for the third time.

Mark Roberts, Ian McCall and Owen Coyle
Mark Roberts, Ian McCall and Owen Coyle
Airdrie went into the match without defender Tony Smith, who had a hamstring strain.

Christie was looking to lift the cup for clubs outwith the SPL for the third time, having won it previously with his present club and Stenhousemuir.

Injury doubt Evans was fit enough to sit on the bench.

The holders threatened after just four minutes, but Roberts' shot from just inside the box was beaten away by goalkeeper Derek Soutar.

Gareth Hutchison headed just over for Alloa and Coyle sent the ball inches wide at the other end.

Soutar came to the rescue with a superb save from Roberts' eight-yard volley.

Alloa took control late in the first half and goalkeeper Allan Ferguson did well to tip over a wayward interception from his own defender, Sandy Stewart, on the stroke of half-time.

Ian McCall shows his delights as Coyle scores
Ian McCall shows his delights as Coyle scores
Andy Seaton's thunderous shot from 20 yards was only kept out by the upright as Alloa continued to threaten shortly after the break.

Airdrie hit back and a volley from Coyle produced a first-class save from Soutar after 56 minutes.

Seconds later, Kevin James' shot came off the underside of the bar following a corner.

Fellow defender Craig McPherson went close after 67 minutes when his shot took a slight deflection and fell just wide of the post.

Airdrie made the breakthrough nine minutes later when Coyle managed to get on the end of Roberts' inswinging cross to bullet a header into the bottom right-hand corner.

Bell's man of the match Roberts sealed the win himself with a superb volley from 18 yards before Evans gave Alloa some late hope.

Airdrie: Ferguson, Armstrong, Stewart, McManus, James, McPherson, Gardner, McFarlane, Taylor, Coyle, Roberts. Subs: Dunn, McDonald, Beesley, Docherty, Bennett.

Alloa: Soutar, Seaton, Watson, Thomson, Knox, Valentine, Fisher, Little, Walker, Hutchison, Hamilton. Subs: Curran, Evans, Irvine, Christie, McQueen.

Referee: M McCurry.

BBC Scotland's Bill Moulds
"Airdrie became the first team to win the Bell's Challenge Cup on a third occasion"
Airdrie manager Ian McCall
"It is a great achievement to retain the cup from last season"
Alloa manager Terry Christie
"I thought the team played well, but we didn't have luck on our side."
Airdrie goalscorer Owen Coyle
"It is a fantastic feeling and I think we deserved to win it"
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